We have Boone Pickens Stadium at OSU. The Gaylords have their name on OU’s stadium. Wayne Cobb, a Hall of Famer and one of my favorite people on planet Earth, was honored by having Kerr Center’s floor named after him.

So, it’s about time one of the area’s most cherished sporting legends is honored in a like manner. Sure, the old gym at Calvin was christened Cali Auditorium in recognition of our distinguished sports editor’s dominance in the paint for the Baby Bulldogs way back when during the Big Fella’s elementary days.

But he deserves even more.

Let it be said that I’m leading a movement to have every hospitality room in the Ada Evening News’ area named a “Jeff D. (The D stands for Deep Pockets) Cali Hospitality and Recreation Area.

“I think it would be great,” said one longtime area superintendent who spoke on the condition of anonymity and a free lunch. “If our school had the money for the food that Jeff Cali has scarfed down over the years, we could build a new gym.”

That’s cold!

Another was even more in favor of my project.

“It’s an unbelievable event to watch the Big Guy in action,” another added. “What dexterity! What agility! I’ve seen him eat a five-course meal and keep score of a basketball game at the same time. One second he has a ham sandwich in his hand, while the next he’s marking down a 3-point field goal. His hand-eye coordination is absolutely incredible.

“Once, while he was marking down a charity shot, an olive — not knowing whose plate it was in — tried to slide during the action. Jeff flicked the little green object in mid-air, gulped it down and never missed a play. The fans gave him a standing ovation. There will never be another one like him. We always call the Ada News to see if the light-eating Leo Kelley, the medium-eating Bob Forrest or Jeff is covering the game. If we’re lucky enough to get Jeff, we always send out for more goodies. We’ve tried for years to find something he won’t eat, but we’ve about given up.”

While the Big Guy’s appetite continues to astound and to flabbergast athletic directors, he’s also added to his trophy case — one that resembles Tiger Woods’.

His latest feat came recently on the golf course where he led his team — Dr. Charles Vest, local businessman Mike McElroy, Oklahoma City resident Jim Fellers, and Cali’s ringer, former Davis/Oklahoma Christian golfing standout Michael Jennings — to an impressive third-place finish and a nice trophy at the Doctor’s Day Golf Classic (It depicts Jeff on his backswing.)

While the Big Fella is taking credit for the team’s performance, here’s a good reason while they call Jennings M.J. (he’s like a Michael Jordan on the links). They were playing “best ball” so Jeff only got to make a couple of swings per hole. How could that stiff take home that hardware, and I can’t even get invited? They must have heard about my Mickelson-like short game.

Anyway, Jeff drives like Long John Daly. His short game is Nicklaus-like, but his stamina resembles that of 88-year-old Arnold Palmer. He wore out three caddies at the recent tournament going after sandwiches.

The captain of the fourth-place crew had some libelous things to say about Long John Cali.

“The best wood in his bag is his pencil,” the disgruntled linkster screamed. “The Cali scoring system goes something like this: He makes an 8, says it should have been a 6, then writes down a 4.”

That ain’t right! I would have challenged the offender to a duel, but I’ve felt the brunt of some of the Big Fella’s “creative” Fantasy Baseball moves.

“You know how they always talk about a player’s lie in golf?” another unhappy golfer added. “Well, that term was coined after an official witnessed Jeff use his magical pencil.”

Jeff was unfazed.

“I don’t worry about those chumps,” he said. “They are just jealous of my golfing ability. Those rumors about my ‘magical’ pencil are unfounded.”

He was bragging about coming within three shots of winning a new car. The seventh hole was a hole-in-one contest and he carded a 4.


The mumps didn’t slow me down

No doubt, I was a hyperactive kid.

Back in my day, doctors didn’t prescribe Ritalin (mainly because it hadn’t been invented yet). Instead, they suggested a stiff leather belt and lots of it.

It was amazing how the sight of my dad with a hunk of leather at the ready could make me settle down and concentrate.

“Do you have ants in your pants?” was a question I’ve heard a million times, give or take a 100,000 or so.

The recent mumps outbreak brought back fond memories of my battle with the disease when I was 10.

“You have to lie down for at least a week!” my mom admonished me several times a day.

I tried but it was impossible. I made a home-made, cardboard goal. After a tape job and the creation of a basketball out of paper, I became Chet “The Jet” Walker (former Bradley University and NBA star basketball player), connecting on fall-away jumpers — nothing but cardboard.

Of course, my mom didn’t fall for the fake pillow under the covers trick (Saw it work in an old prison break movie). She caught me just as I was about to get into Wilt Chamberlin’s grill.

“If you keep this up, you’ll never be able to have children,” she scolded me. “You had better think about that!”

I did. Night and day.

But no matter how hard I tried, I could never figure out how my swelled-up throat would prevent me from being a father some day.

Of course, back in my day we didn’t have sex education in our school or cable TV. So, I had to take my mom’s word for it. Come to think of it, she’s a pretty wise person.

Oh yeah, all those jump shots and driving layups — ala Oscar Robertson, the Big O — didn’t do any permanent damage. I had all the kids I wanted and then some. Like my dad liked to say, “One in the spring and another in the fall.”


My kids are cold-blooded

My children have been a little suspect over the years as I replay my athletic achievements — each year they’ve grown just a little.

“Show me some video tape and I’ll believe it,” the young one, a dyed-in-the-wool Atlanta Braves fan, always demands.

“They didn’t have video tape back when he played,” the older one always adds.

Talk about cold-blooded!

Anyway, there’s probably only two people alive who can confirm that I played (Notice I didn’t say they would verify my overblown memories.)

My mom, who missed one game of the 3,241 that I played, and retired Allen baseball coach Donnie Johnson.

When I was 11, I got to spend three weeks at the renowned Chandler Baseball Camp, where you played a game at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. every day and practiced three hours in between.

Johnson, an All-State baseball player in his day, was a young college student working at the camp during the summer.

Our head coach at the camp was a crusty old-schooler named Dusty Eby, a great coach (I think he’s in the Oklahoma Coach’s Hall of Fame). But I liked the younger, nuttier, cooler, fun-loving Donnie Johnson.

Anyone could tell even then (He was 23 or 24) that he would be an outstanding coach some day. He was patient and taught a scrawny, homesick country boy a lot about baseball.

I know it’s been a long time (We both had hair back then) but I want to thank him for taking an interest in me. I felt a lot better about myself after those three weeks.

Donnie Johnson turned out to be one of the best high school baseball coaches in Oklahoma. He’s never gotten the credit he deserved (in my opinion), but he’s the type of guy that hasn’t lost a second’s sleep over it. He married a real sweetheart. Great family. Enough said.


Fantasy update

It looks like defending champ Kevin Gray is going to make a mockery out of the 2006 Ada Evening News Fantasy Baseball League. Surely, Leo’s Sluggs will have a miraculous weekend against KJ and end up 7-7. Bob Forrest’s Mustangs were currently third after Week 2, but are playing like nags this week, and Jeff Cali AEN’s Investigators complete the upper division.

Falling behind down in the Stiff Division are Team Flash (Jeremy Cantrell), The Winners II (Cali’s brother’s team), the pathetic Weekend Warriors (Chuck Muntz) and those light-hittin’, no-fieldin’, no-pitchin’ Soonerjas, led by manager James Myers. Myers could be mathematically out of the Fantasy League playoffs by the end of Week 3 if he doesn’t find a new manager.

Standings after Week 2 of the Ada Evening News Fantasy Baseball League:

1. KJ's Hardhitters 20-6-2

2. leo's sluggs 14-10-4

3. Mustangs 14-11-3

4. AEN Investigators 13-14-1

5. Team Flash 13-14-1

6. The Winners II 11-13-4

7. Weekend Warriors 11-15-2

8. soonerjas 5-18-5